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CL previews upcoming concerts (July 22-28)

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 22

Hoots and Hellmouth Like Dr. Dog's twang, banjo-totin' Marah or the National Eye's Neil Young fixation, here's another Philly ensemble that makes a mash-up of urban and rural elements – hoedowns, folky ballads and gut-bucket bar rock colliding on the street corner. Its latest, The Holy Open Secret, continues the trend, and though the tent-revival/street-patter lyrics often tilt annoying, the band is renowned for delivering an energetic live show. With Hot House Hefftones. The Evening Muse (John Schacht)

Architects of Fear Autoharp and keytar: probably not the first instruments to build a band around, but this Florida quartet did, and survived (so far). Somehow they mold 'em into up-tempo indie pop with a theatrical flair and wind up sounding something like early Weezer and Devo art student pop-punk as done by the Ramones – if they'd played autoharp and keytar, of course. Strange, yes, but not without a certain charm and energy. Snug Harbor (Schacht)

THURSDAY, JULY 23

Blue Dogs The S.C. band is back once again – this time around, they'll warm up the Alive After Five crowd. As horrendous as the band schedule has been this summer with cover band, after cover band, after cover band, the AAF folks should be given credit for scheduling a damn-fine band this week. Stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, drums and a good bit of Southern twang give the Blue Dogs a broad appeal. Sure, the crowd may not be singing along to every word, but they can get feet moving, asses shaking and the majority of attendees to pay attention to quality original music for a change. Epicentre (Jeff Hahne)

FRIDAY, JULY 24

Lamb Handler These rough and tumble rock & rollers from the Queen City will make you shake what you didn't even know you had. Fast, hard-hitting beats with ferocious vocals and rockabilly charm, Lamb Handler's performance is like a swift kick in the ass. You'll leave drenched, feeling a little dirty and a bit sore from all that air drumming you did at the bar, but man, it'll be a hell of a time. With Trouble Walkers and The Mangles. Snug Harbor (Sam Webster)

SkinKage Get your fists and devil horns scrubbed and ready. Mooresville-based headbangers SkinKage are releasing their new disc The Devastation at Hand. The thrashcore quintet isn't bent on breaking any new ground; most tunes are straight-up thrash metal. But they do stir up plenty of dust with growly vox, rat-a-tat guitar licks and booming percussion. Along for the ride are A Road Eternal and Every Mans Enemy. Tremont Music Hall (Samir Shukla)

Songs of Water The lead instrument for this N.C. instrumental combo is the Appalachian folk staple, the hammered dulcimer. But the sextet Songs of Water isn't a roots outfit, as its blend of folk melodies, flamenco-tipped guitar work, jazzy flourishes interlaced with classical and Latin interludes are brushed with funky percussion into a fine fusion of global vibes. This is a free gig to boot. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

SATURDAY, JULY 25

The Despised Long running, on-again, off-again Atlanta punks The Despised unleash good ole L.A. style punk and hardcore. The blokes, influenced largely by Poison Idea, Black Flag and metal, are quite established in their own breakneck bombast that gets the crowd frenzied and bouncing in a Georgia minute. Also on the bill are Planet Piss, Razorkat and Randy Burke. Milestone (Shukla)

SUNDAY, JULY 26

Kid Rock/Lynyrd Skynyrd A pretty telling pairing, methinks. Kid Rock's songwriting career is so dead in the water that he's now forced to mash up old classic rock songs (Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London") to write "new" hits. Skynyrd's grim (reaper'd) legacy is haunted by the deaths of most everyone in the original band, excepting guitarist Gary Rossington. Still, Skynyrd once had something going for it, even as the group was too often seen as a bunch of knuckle-dragging rednecks who'd just crawled out of a swamp seconds before stepping on stage. Sporting songs about handgun violence ("Saturday Night Special"), the effects of drug and drink abuse ("That Smell" "Needle and the Spoon"), racism ("The Ballad of Curtis Loew") and more, the band had lyrical heft to go along with musical muscle. Rock's legacy? Well, as the saying goes, only the good die young. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Davis)

TUESDAY, JULY 28

Jason Mraz The acoustic singer-songwriter has had a hit here and there but usually stays off on the edge of the top 40. That all changed after his collaboration with Colbie Callait and single "I'm Yours" was being played just about everywhere. Sure, his sophomore album hit high on the Billboard chart, but most people didn't care. Now, people seem to be paying attention to his somewhat quirky style and funky rhythms. He's out in support of 2008's We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. this time around. Uptown Amphitheatre (Hahne)

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